Chennai leave it late but down Rajasthan
Chennai Super Kings 147 for 3 (du Plessis 73) beat Rajasthan Royals 146 for 4 (Shah 52, Menaria 36) by seven wickets
Scorecard and ball-by-ball details
On another sweltering day, there was another demonstration of how quickly Twenty20 games can turn. With four overs to go, Chennai Super Kings had nine wickets remaining and needed 31 runs - a one-sided game then by Twenty20 standards.
A double-strike from Kevon Cooper in the 17th over made the Chennai dressing room a little anxious, but with MS Dhoni and Dwayne Bravo in the middle, things were still under control. Amit Singh leaked runs in the next over, and when he bowled a legstump freebie with the fine leg up, the game again seemed over.
There were no more boundaries in the game, however, and after Cooper bowled another tight over, Karnataka allrounder Stuart bowled yorker after yorker to bring it down to two off the final delivery. Yet again, though, Dhoni showed his ice-cool temperament, whipping the last ball to deep backward square leg and haring through for the second, easily beating a poor throw from Cooper.
In Rajasthan Royals' previous match, little-known Dishant Yagnik, playing his first game of the season had come out on top against the world's best bowler, Dale Steyn. This time, the unheralded Binny, also playing his first game of the season, nearly pulled it off against the world's best finisher. Binny who hadn't batted in the game and was trusted with only one over before the climactic one, produced one of the best final overs of the season, but was left distraught and on his knees, to be consoled by his captain and state-mate Rahul Dravid.
There were many similarities in the two innings.
Nuwan Kulasekara had earlier produced an outstanding final over, and given away just eight in two death overs to limit Royals to a moderate score. Kulasekara's tactic was to generally bowl full and wide, which the batsmen found hard to slog.
Before Kulasekara, Chennai's spinners had put the skids on the scoring after Royals openers, Ajinkya Rahane and Rahul Dravid, had made a bright start. Royals had raced to 32 off four overs before R Ashwin intervened. He had Rahane chipping to mid-off and gave away only four in his first two overs. Then left-arm spinners Shadab Jakati and Ravindra Jadeja gave little away in the middle of the innings.
For the Royals also, it was their spinner who choked the runs after a decent start from Super Kings. Brad Hogg made his international debut nearly 16 years ago, but few - if any - batsmen are able to pick his wrong 'un even now. That variation accounted for S Badrinath, and the guessing game Hogg forced the batsmen to play gave him figures of 4-0-18-1.
Royals' batting had revolved around Owais Shah, a player who is having his first successful season in the IPL. He reached his third half-century of the tournament, but it lacked the fluency and big-hitting of his previous two efforts. Shah's constant shuffling around in the crease, though, brought him reward in the 15th over, as Jadeja fluffed his lines trying to double-guess the batsmen. Two wides for four, and a six over extra cover gave Royals 22 off the over. When Ashok Menaria, Shah's partner for much of the innings, launched Bravo for a six and a four in the 17th, the big onslaught finally seemed on. Kulasekara, though, scuttled Royals' hopes of crossing 150.
The cornerstone of Super Kings' batting was also a half-century from one of their players enjoying his first fruitful IPL season. Faf du Plessis got his third fifty in four matches and moved to within 18 runs of getting the orange cap from Rahane. When he and the IPL's highest run-getter, Suresh Raina, were in the middle, the chase seemed straightforward and the vocal crowd incessantly chanting "CSK, CSK" would hardly have expected the tension-filled finale.
Siddarth Ravindran is a sub-editor at ESPNcricinfo